About Us

Our company is owned and operated by two Americans with 30 years experience in the region. They work hand in hand with experienced local staff as well as the Directorate of Tourism.

Kurdistan Iraq Tours (A division of The Other Iraq Tours "TOIT") was the first inwardly focused Tour Company in the Region and is the pioneer of all modern tourism in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). TOIT hosted the first ever tour group after the last Gulf War (American) and has been in the forefront of hosting most other major nations such as Germany, Australia, Italy, Austria, Britain, and Canada as well as more obscure nations such as Mongolia.

We are famous for our attention to detail. Relax & let us handle 
your journey to one of the most fascinating lands in the world.

We are the most experienced travel professionals in this region.

Dr. Layton has a doctorate in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies and has lived and worked in Kurdistan for over 22 years in various capacities including the US State Department Country Director of Health Care Partnerships and as the National Director for Kurdistan Development Corporation. He has written several books on Kurdish History and is the founder the first American English language school in Kurdistan.

He was the originator of the term “The Other Iraq” used by many media outlets and governments today. He initiated the successful International PR campaign titled Kurdistan: The Other Iraq shown on major news outlets such as CNN, FOX, CBS and BBC.

He has traveled to more than 100 countries and is the founder of several International relief and development NGOs. He now resides in Florida and travels to Kurdistan on a regular basis.

Mr. Schute has a great deal of experience in the Kurdistan Region. He entered Kurdistan in April 2003 as the commander of a US Army Reserve Civil Affairs battalion and within two months was the senior US Army commander responsible for the three governorates of the Kurdistan Region. He later served with the Army as the Chief of Staff for the Coalition Provisional Authority Northern Region Office in Erbil.

In these capacities, he travelled to all parts of Kurdistan getting to know people at all levels of society, from the most senior leaders, to the man in the street. Mr. Schute has a B.S. from the US Military Academy at West Point, where he was a History major. 

He speaks Sorani Kurdish and is conversant in German.

Balin Zrar is the most experienced tour guide in the region and serves as Project Manager for the Other Iraq Tours LLC. He is both a Kurdish and British citizen possessing a unique ability to blend local flavor with International standards. 

After his studies, he went to London where he opened an Italian restaurant in Soho (1997-2005).

He has traveled extensively in Europe, China and the Middle East. Several years ago Balin returned to his homeland to take an active role in building what he believes will become one of Kurdistan’s largest economic sectors –tourism.


We just returned from the 10-2013 trip with Other Iraq Tours led by Balin. It was a really wonderful experience.  Balin is a great person and a very knowledgeable guide.  He made the trip interesting with stories about the places we visited, the culture, and the history of Kurdistan.  The itinerary of the trip includes a variety of sites that are well worth seeing – there was a mixture of historical, religious and cultural sites, as well as sites from Saddam’s dictatorship.  The biggest surprise we had was the extensive economic and infrastructure development going on in the country.  Finally, the food and hotels were great.  All in all, an unforgettable trip.

I had the great pleasure to visit Kurdistan/Iraq in September 2011. I booked the trip through a Swiss travel agency and I travelled with Halwest around the country. I loved it and I want to see more. It has been one of my most wonderful trips. And this was also because of my guide Halwest, who gave me the feeling to be in safe hands. He took any occasion to show me his beautiful country and he opened my eyes for the population, the food, customs and life in general. Unforgettable!

This past May (2012) I have spent a great week in Kurdistan, Iraq, traveling with "The Other Iraq Tours." Though I was told this region of Iraq is quite safe, I found it even better. I have found it prosperous and stable. My two guides, Pedro and Balin, were very knowledgeable and answered all my questions to my full satisfaction. Both went past their duties to make me understand their country.

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